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Resistance Within The Iliad : Helen 's Agency Demolished

Decent Essays
Helen On
Brendan Shapiro
Humanities Core
20 October 2015
Resistance Within the Iliad: Helen’s Agency Demolished The Iliad, an epic poem written by Homer, concerns a deadly war between Greek and Trojan mortals and immortals. Throughout the battle, the characters try to impose their will onto the war by expressing their own agency. Agency is a character’s ability to act on their own free will without any emotional or physical constraints stopping them. However, the characters do not always have the luxury of doing whatever they please. There are many factors that come into play that does not allow the them to act freely. In Book Three, we can see Helen, the prize of the Trojan war, having trouble expressing her own will. Helen challenges Aphrodite’s command when she tries to convince Helen to join Paris in his bedroom and Helen shames Paris when they finally meet. In this particular scene, lines 3.428 to 3.524, Helen is able to assert herself through speaking, but she still has no capability to act and must follow the orders of Aphrodite and Paris. Helen’s verbal resistance against Aphrodite and Paris shows how the social hierarchy set within the Iliad limit mortal women from being able to act on their own accord. Since Helen is a mortal, she is already in a position under all of the gods. But, this does not stop her from mocking Aphrodite. From lines 3.460 to 3.485, Aphrodite appears before Helen, demanding her to go to Paris’ bedroom. Of course, Helen is enraged. She
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